Some time ago Dave made up and painted a squad of Polish paratroopers which have never seen the light of day so with the gang back together again we decided to do a multi player skirmish set in post Market Garden, Holland.
The basic scenario was, the para’s and a cell from the Dutch resistance have captured a fortified house guarding a crossroads on the route of XXX Corps, unfortunately the defending Germans managed to get a message out prior to being overpowered and a young resistance fighter has just cycled in to say German reinforcements are on their way!
The para’s were allowed to position themselves anywhere around the house and the Dutch anywhere around the windmill and ruined barn, so essentially covering the north south and east west road approaches. The Germans had 4 squads and 10 potential entry points so each squad diced for where they would randomly come on and if it was a road they had the option of using a truck. As it turned out 1 squad came from the north down the road by truck, 1 from the south by truck and 2 squads from the south east, emerging from the wooded terrain. The allies were outnumbered 2:1 but did have the advantage of extensive cover and in the case of the paras better training.
Because the Germans entered at different points and were commanded by different players there wasn’t too much co-ordination (no radios = no player chit chat) so probably best to describe each squad’s ‘journey’ as a whole.
The squad on the northern road (3rd squad) drove as far as the wrecked lorry blocking the way and then de-bussed to head for the windmill (no Dutch were visible at this point) with the aim of using it as the fire base to pin down the defenders of the house. This plan deteriorated quite early on when the para sniper picked off the lmg gunner as the squad crossed the hedge 😕
The squad were then involved in a race for cover as the para Bren also opened up and by the time they reached the windmill area they had several men down. At the windmill the Dutch started to open fire but their poorer training meant they weren’t so deadly (by now the para’s had other Germans to worry about) so they were soon dispatched. Once at the windmill the Germans were able to outflank the resistance fighters who were outflanking the Germans advancing from the south and gunned them down. By game end this squad was settled in the windmill but nursing 50% losses. The Dutch had ceased to exist as an effective fighting force and the survivors slipped away.
The Germans on the southern road (1st squad) drove about half way to the crossroads then debussed and crossed the hedge to their left to advance on the house, reckoning that to drive any closer would invite a Piat shot (actually the paras didn’t have a Piat but the Germans didn’t know that 😀). The corporal and one other stayed by the truck to engage in long range distraction of the paras now visible on the bunker roof- they eventually downed one para who was bandaged up by his mates.
It was a long slog up to the crossroads and at the corner they took an unexpected casualty from the firing slit in the bunker door which covered the break in the hedge – this was a pure accident of the terrain placement and despite a bit of debate we agreed it was a legal shot. Alerted now, most of the the squad scrambled over the hedge and advanced on the house using the burning Hanomag as a screen, things were looking good as 2nd & 4th squads were converging on the house.
Now out of angle of the bunker door the squad prepared for an assault…….
Boom! Unfortunately one of the resistance team hiding out in the barn was positioned at the window, hidden by the other burning wreck, and let fly with a panzerfaust which exploded against the Hanomag taking out 3 of the squad in the blast 😮 – the funny bit was that the Dutch player thought that the guy he had placed there was armed with a rifle 🤣😂
The result of this debacle was that the sergeant died of his wounds and the resultant morale test saw that group ‘pinned’ and then ‘gone to ground’ which meant they crawled away from the action until rallied – they didn’t.
The remainder of the squad, a couple of guys the other side of the burning vehicles and the corporal and his mate, belatedly advancing up the road, pulled themselves together enough to kill off the Dutch in the barn (I wonder if it was a ‘Dutch barn’?) but that was them essentially done. A noteworthy postscript was that in the dying light of the day the corporal managed to place a charge against the bunker door and blow it in – the figure was equipped with a bunch of grenades bundled together for tank busting so we agreed that was a feasible outcome.
The German 4th squad emerged from the eastern woods into the sunlight and started out across the open field toward the house only to take rifle fire from the upper windows that downed the corporal, but the sergeant urged the men on, leaving behind a man to dress the corporal’s wound. They flung themselves into cover at some shell holes and returned fire supported by the lmg of 2nd squad behind them, after a couple of turns of no firing from the house (the para had been hit and was being treated by another) they rushed to the hedge in front of them and vaulted over and into the street.
Once in the street there was a ‘lobbing grenades into the house competition’ which saw grenades get through the window but land nowhere near those inside (as the Germans couldn’t mark their target the impact point was randomised) but the concussion from grenades going off in a small room were deemed to have concussed those inside. The main plan however was to rush to the rear of the house, storm into the yard and up the stairs.
However, as soon as the first soldier entered the yard a shot rang out from the bunker (this bloody bunker!) and down he went. This completely stuffed the plan and the squad was now stuck exchanging useless shots at a bunker slit knowing full well only a lucky hit would be enough – they never got lucky. One bright spot was a single soldier who had been sent crawling into the under house garage space, but more of him later.
The German 2nd squad emerged from the south east slightly behind 4th squad so when the 4th took fire the lmg team quickly deployed and opened up on the house – it was actually their fire that inflicted the casualty. While the lmg team remained deployed, the rest of the squad advanced, using the eastern hedge line as cover, arriving at the hedge to the south of the house just as 4th got set to advance round the corner.
Vaulting the hedge like their predecessors, the 2nd also went for the grenade lobbing trick but what a disaster 🙄, the grenade hit the windowsill, bounced back and exploded amongst the squad, killing the sergeant and one other! Despite the shock the corporal rallied the squad and led them up the road away from dangerous grenade throwing and into the hell that was the crossroads fighting.
The corporal firing his smg at the bunker firing slit this provided enough of a distraction for the lone private from 4th squad who’d crawled through the garage space to get to the side of the slit and post a grenade – boom!
In the fading light the rest of 2nd squad got round the side of the bunker but there was still no way of launching an effective assault. In desperation surrender terms were offered but the paras said they hadn’t got room for so many prisoners 🤣😂 (if you’re going to steal, steal from the best), even the blowing in of the bunker door failed to convince them!
At that point we decided the Germans would fall back far enough to keep the paras bottled up and hope to starve them out before XXX Corps arrived, which was probably a vain hope.
Overall we had a great time, plenty of tactical decisions to be made; when do you run across open ground, how many men are you prepared to lose in a suicidal assault, remembering to fire and move, etc. We also got a sense of the frustration of close assault against prepared positions, especially when those positions are held by good quality troops, although the fortified house was a lot harder nut to crack than we envisaged,
Anyway, we played, we bantered, we had a good game, all you can ask for really.
Thanks for reading and enjoy your gaming.